Speech Duties of a Best Man

Written by colleen reinhart
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Speech Duties of a Best Man
Prepare beforehand to deliver a praiseworthy speech on the big day. (Maria Teijeiro/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Getting picked as the best man is an honour, but the title also comes with considerable responsibility. One of the most feared duties is the best man speech. Deciding what to say and how to say it is challenging, especially if you aren't used to public speaking. Although the speech is ultimately yours to write, ease your mind knowing that you can call on the bridal party's support if needed.

Strike a Balance With Jokes and Embarrassment

One of the best man's main speech duties is to embarrass the bride and groom, especially the groom. First, introduce yourself and explain how to you know the groom. Sum up the speech with a line expressing your well wishes. Everything in between should be facts, stories and anecdotes about the groom, your friendship and his relationship with the bride. Jokes are par for the course with best man speeches, but you need to make sure that you don't cross the line into inappropriate territory. The website Stags and Hens suggests the following rule of thumb: if you wouldn't say it to your grandma or a young relative, don't include it in the speech.

If you're not sure where to start when looking for jokes and interesting material, the website Speech Topics Help, Advice & Ideas suggests talking about how you found out about the groom's new love, using a slideshow of childhood photos to support embarrassing stories. Using props, such as childhood toys and awards, also helps with holding audience interest.

Don't Be Afraid to Get Heartfelt

Not all of your stories need to go for big laughs. In fact, one heartfelt or sentimental statement is more memorable than a litany of jokes. If you feel uncomfortable vocalising your feelings, remember that a wedding is one event where sappiness is acceptable and encouraged.

Ask the Bridal Party

If you find yourself struggling for stories and material, don't feel like you have to go it alone. The other groomsmen probably have plenty of stories and memories that they can contribute to your speech. Parents are also a good source for dirt on the groom. Asking the bride is another way to get some funny stories about your buddy and his relationship with his soon-to-be wife. Asking the bride about how long she's hoping the speeches will go gives you an idea of how long your toast should be. Most best man speeches take five to eight minutes to deliver, according to Stags and Hens--that's five to eight written pages if you use 12-point Arial font and 1.5 spacing.

Practice and Stay Sober

Don't make your speech on the fly. Writing it out and practicing helps, but don't overdo it or you'll risk having your delivery appear stiff and unnatural. Giving yourself stage directions and prompts in your speech notes helps with the preparation. Stags and Hens recommends one hour of practice per minute of your speech. Video recording your practice sessions provides a way to look for how to improve your delivery. Having your speech finished about two weeks before the wedding allows time for changes and rewrites. Finally, drinking on the wedding day is best done after your speech is delivered. There will be plenty of time to party afterward.

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